This month for our Resident in Focus feature, we decided to turn it over to the Barclays Eagle Labs Team Members, Emma and Lisa, here at Ormeau Baths. They shared the story behind Barclays Eagle Labs, the innovation that led to creating communities for startups, further insight into their individual roles and what they enjoy most about them.
First up, tell us about the work that Barclays Eagle Labs does…
When under-used Barclays spaces became available in 2015, we decided to repurpose them to create an incubator community for startups and entrepreneurs. We call these spaces Eagle Labs and we have over 25 of them all over the UK, some in Barclays spaces, and some are now in partnered spaces. They’re built to give you access to the right people, knowledge, and opportunities to scale and succeed. We’re a launchpad for those with the ideas to change the way we do things. So, if you’re a startup, investor, or corporate, our Labs offer entrepreneurs, individuals, and businesses coworking and office space, innovative tools, curated events, and the right network to innovate and scale.
What excites you most about your role?
Lisa: I love getting to meet and work with a variety of individuals who have been following a dream and making an innovative improvement to the world. Over the past 3 years, it has been so exciting to watch some companies start with us as a one-person team, and have now outgrown the space (as much as we love having them). It’s amazing to see teams we met at an early stage now have 10-20 employees. I recently started to lead the Female Founders Initiative for Eagle Labs and this has been a real highlight for me, as one of my passions is helping females develop in a male-dominated industry.
What do you enjoy most about Ormeau Baths?
Emma: Where do I start? Walking in through the Ormeau Baths was a massive pivot in my career, coming from a corporate office to the baths was a major change, but one that I would never reverse. As soon as you walk into the doors at Ormeau Baths everyone just feels like they are walking into their own homes, the community developed over the past few years really shines, I love how everyone is willing to help and support each other at any time, as well as everyone having time for a cup of tea and a friendly chat.
During your time with Barclays Eagle Labs, what’s one project that’s really stood out to you?
Both: I think we both agree a real highlight for us would be developing the female founder initiative. We have developed this together with Lisa leading, and the past year we have held over 150 events with over 2500 attendees and 500 connections. The initiative started through a small, relaxed, ‘no agenda’ round table event we held in Ormeau Baths, which went really well and we felt the female founders really opened up with their challenges. We thought immediately ‘we connect within our own networks well like this but why couldn’t we start this across the whole network grouping 26 labs together from across the UK’ – and we did! Our journey with Female Founders is still growing daily, making super connections and trying to make the lives of Female Founders a smoother journey, watch this space!
What’s the biggest misconception about your work/industry?
Lisa: I feel that for Eagle Labs specifically, people feel like there’s a ‘catch’ being a bank. I always like to re-iterate just because we are a bank, and just because we might help you with mentors, investors, access to programs or connections, you do not have to bank with us! Some of the companies that we have supported the most, haven’t banked with us, and that’s ok. My aim is to build relationships, trust, and support people/companies as much as we can.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Emma: For me, one of my other passions as well as helping female founders, is helping those discover entrepreneurship and the support that is out there while still in the education system. I have been working a lot this year with a colleague on a University Accelerator program launching later this year which will excitingly be piloting in Belfast! I am really passionate about showing students that there is support out there especially from Eagle Labs and our partners. While you are still in education this is a prime opportunity to start building on an idea without any massive personal commitments that naturally come in later life (not that this stops anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit) but to avoid any ‘what if’ thoughts ☺
If you could pick up a skill in an instant, what would it be?
Both: We are laughing while answering this as we would both love to be able to sing! (I’m sure anyone who sits near the Ormeau Baths reception will agree this is a skill we have not yet mastered!!) but who knows with a few lessons we could be the latest girl band? (or karaoke disaster)
Who is your dream business mentor?
Lisa: Mine would have to be Brene Brown as she focuses on courage shame, empathy, and vulnerability. Through Female Founders I was lucky enough to attend a workshop, by a life coach trained personally by Brene and it brought me so much inspiration and new ways to look at my role, personal life, and my own confidence. So many women today struggle silently on a daily basis and for me personally, I get a lot of comfort from reading her books and listening to her podcasts, as a lot of what she says can hit home a lot.
Emma: Mine is actually a local answer! Nancy Brown, I first met Nancy as she was my tutor during my part-time leadership & management degree. I always think that business mentors have to be someone you really connect with, and I really did with Nancy. A few years down the line, and still, every time I come off a meeting with Nancy I feel truly inspired, energized, and she helps grow my confidence and in my own abilities.